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Survivors Group Sues Monsignor and Lawyer

September 19, 2006|Jessica Garrison | Times Staff Writer

A support group that aids victims of clergy sexual abuse has sued a monsignor and his lawyer, claiming the two tried to use the courts to improperly silence the support group's attempts to expose priests who are molesters.

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, filed a lawsuit Friday accusing Msgr. Joseph F. Alzugaray and lawyer Neil Papiano of malicious prosecution.

The suit stems from a libel and defamation lawsuit that Papiano filed on Alzugaray's behalf in 2004 against SNAP. In it, the priest claimed that the group libeled him when it issued news releases and distributed leaflets accusing him of having been a sexually abusive priest. Alzugaray has denied being a molester.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge John N. Mayeda dismissed much of that suit in 2004. The priest filed an amended complaint the next year.

Now, SNAP has filed its own suit claiming that the monsignor is trying to use the legal system to silence and intimidate victims.

Alzugaray, pastor of St. Apollinaris Church in Napa, Calif., declined to comment. Papiano could not be reached.

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jessica.garrison@latimes.com

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